A luxury hotel just five minutes from Jerusalem’s Old City, a desert hotel in southern Israel, and the cities of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv were recognized as some of the best travel destinations in separate categories in the 25th edition of travel magazine Travel + Leisure’s 2020 World’s Best Awards, an annual travel program run by the upscale New York-based publication.
The program is based on an annual survey that asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe and rate “airlines, airports, car-rental agencies, cities, cruise ships, destination spas, hotels, hotel brands, islands, tour operators, and safari outfitters,” according to the magazine.
This year, the travel survey closed on March 2, just before widespread orders to stay at home were implemented across Europe, the Middle East, and later, the United states, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The results reflect our readers’ experiences before the pandemic, but we hope that this year’s honorees will inspire your trips to come — whenever they may be,” Travel + Leisure Associate Editor Hannah Walhout wrote in an article highlighting the winners.
Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem, the high-end hotel just minutes away Jaffa Gate and the Old City, ranked third in the magazine’s “Best City Hotels in North Africa and the Middle East” category.
Hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as city or resort based on their locations and amenities, Travel + Leisure wrote.
The first spot in the category went to the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah in Dubai, which the magazine calls a landmark in the city’s skyline. Travel + Leisure says this hotel is “iconic” and that it “excels at pure, unadulterated luxury” thanks to a private beachfront, Michelin star chefs, and a massive 18th-floor spa, according to the magazine.
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In the “Top Resort Hotels in Africa and the Middle East” category, the Beresheet Hotel in Mitzpe Ramon in southern Israel ranked third, moving up two spots from last year’s awards where it came in fifth in the same category. Two years ago, it also placed third.
The Kasbah Tamadot in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco ranked first in this category for the second year in a row. Travel + Leisure said it was “ideally located for seeing Morocco’s more rustic side” and praised its isolated location (one hour from the Marrakesh airport) and authentic on-site restaurant.
In the “10 best cities in Africa and the Middle East” category, Jerusalem ranked fifth, slipping from second place last year, and Tel Aviv ranked sixth, for the second year in a row. Marrakesh, Morocco came in first, moving up from third place last year, while Cape Town, South Africa came in second, Fez, Morocco came in third, and Beirut, Lebanon came in fourth respectively.
The magazine praised the top cities in Africa and the Middle East for their “incredible diversity.”
It was also noted that Jerusalem is a WBA Hall of Fame honoree. The designation means that Jerusalem has been voted onto this specific World’s Best Awards list consecutively for the past 10 years.
Tel Aviv ranked sixth on the list for the second year in a row. Even as the city started a local campaign to offer deals to Israelis who book overnight stays at the city’s many hotels, Tel Aviv’s tourism industry has been hard-hit by the ongoing pandemic. Many of its cultural events, including the city’s annual Pride Parade, have been postponed or canceled.